Friday, December 29, 2006

Bear Creek to Oriental, NC

19.5 nm
Wind: calm to NE 5 knots
Maximum speed: 4.8 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 4.4 knots
Average speed: 2.6 knots
Latitude: 35°01.49’N
Longitude: 076°41.74’W

I’m sitting in the cockpit, writing on my notepad. It’s about 3:30 in the afternoon, the sun’s beating down so hard I may get a sunburn, we have all sail out, running wing-and-wing with the Master steering at about three knots, and all my depression has burned off. Life is perfect. This is the dream, right here, now, its pulse heavy beneath my fingers.

It’s the first day we’ve had the mainsail up since Knapp Narrows, way back in the Chesapeake, eons ago. Since the day we ran straight at the bascule bridge at seven knots under main alone, the water pushing us forward.

We both needed to sail today, like a fix. I admit it—we’re addicts. It’s the last day that we’ll have open water until Beaufort Inlet, when we have to decide whether or not we’re going inside to Cape Fear. So even when the forecast was for light and variable wind we dutifully raised our sails this morning and sat in the sun while we drifted along at less than a knot.

It’s all done under the pretense of testing the Master’s battery usage under sail. He’s doing amazing. We’ve never used him under sail before, but he’s rated at less than a half-amp an hour, so we figured we’d give it a try. With the computer, the depth sounder, and the Master all running on one battery for five hours, which charged for only a half-hour this morning, we haven’t had our voltage alarm go off yet. If you’re not a cruiser, you don’t understand how you live and die by battery, but I’m in awe. The Master might even outlast our daylight.

That’s very good news for going offshore this next stretch. We’re both getting impatient with the diesel, even though it’s done its part, and a good one, getting us this far. But I don’t want to build bad habits. I don’t want to get lazy. And sailing today has been like medicine. I feel like my universe has realigned. I know what I’m doing, why I’m here. We may have to motor the whole rest of the way down, and that’s okay. It’ll be a necessary sacrifice. Fossil fuels burning at the altar of adventure. But I know that this, this perfect moment, in harmony with the wind, the water, the sky, the moon shining like a coin in the blue behind us, this is why I’m doing this. I’m a believer again.

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